There are various statistics, but it seems that more than 50% of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder also struggle with addiction in some form, such as drugs or alcohol. When a person is diagnosed with bipolar disorder or another mood disorder, and also has a problem with drugs and/or alcohol, it is called dual diagnosis. I was diagnosed with dual diagnosis when I was 14 years old. My drug of choice was crack, but I would do whatever I could find; I also had a problem with alcohol. If anyone is thinking about a rehab, it’s important to research each treatment center you are looking at for yourself or your loved ones to make sure it can properly treat both your mental health disorder and your drug/alcohol addiction.
Dual diagnosis can make it more difficult to treat either disorder, but it’s not impossible. I’ve heard some people say that drugs and alcohol can bring on mental health episodes; and mental health episodes often lead individuals towards drug/alcohol use; both are true based on my own experience.
I know it’s possible to recover from dual diagnosis. I am 11 years sober, which is something I never thought I could say. On April 29, 2004, I went willingly to a yearlong rehab that also helped treat my bipolar disorder, and I have been sober ever since. I even worked there for 9 months after I completed the program. There is always hope, recovery from addiction is always possible. There is no single way to recover from addiction, every person is different. I got sober through the help of a 12 step program. What worked for me may not work for another person.
I feel the same way about treating bipolar disorder. I have tried so many different medications but I have not found the right combination of meds that works for this episode. Even though the meds may have previously worked, or are currently working for many others, it doesn’t mean they will definitely work for me. It’s basically a trial and error situation when treating mental health. That is really hard for me to accept, especially since I’ve been through so many meds. I want a fix, I want to feel better again; I’m not sure how much more patience I have. However, if I could recover from a severe drug and alcohol addiction at 19 years old, then I can hold on to hope for bipolar ‘remission’. I’ve had times in my life when I was not manic, depressed, hypomanic, or mixed. If it’s happened before, it can happen again. Anything is possible.